This shard of pottery is from a storage container used by an unknown someone who lived on a hill in Lisbon almost three thousand years ago. I imagine her filling the original container with soup or stew or pickles or water, then scouring it out, day after day.
Sometimes I picture the potter who made it, how they shaped its curves, worked the clay, painted those stripes with care and attention so that the pot would be beautiful. Doesn’t matter where we are or who we are or how poor or how worried or stressed or tired our lives, we make things beautiful because we want to, because we can. Because it’s a gift we can give ourselves.
The Road, by Pauletta Hansel
Where I’m from, everybody had a flower garden,
and I’m not talking about landscaping—
those variegated grasses poking up between
the yellow daylilies that bloom more than once.
Even the rusted-out trailer down in the green bottoms
had snowball bushes that outlived the floods.
Even the bootlegger’s wife grew roses up the porch pillar
still flecked with a little paint, and in the spring
her purple irises rickracked the rutted gravel drive.
Even the grannies changed out of their housedresses
to thin the sprouts of zinnias so come summer
they’d bloom into muumuus of scarlet and coral
down by the road.
Now driving that road that used to take me home,
I think how maybe it’s still true.
Everybody says down here it’s nothing
but burnt-out shake and bakes and skinny girls
looking for a vein, but everywhere I look
there’s mallows and glads, begonias in rubber tire
planters painted to match, cannies red
as the powder my mother would pat high
on her cheekbones when she wanted to be noticed
for more than her cobblers and beans.
Everywhere there’s some sort of beautiful
somebody worked hard at, no matter
how many times they were told
nobody from here even tries.
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Lovely poem. It made me think of Mayella Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird, carefully nurturing the red geraniums outside her sad home.
I loved your book, The Opposite of Fate. It made me think in new ways about these complex issues. And the different points of view added layers of meaning. “Maybe there could be good things to come. Maybe there could be beautiful things.” Thank you.
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Mim, you are so kind. Thank you for reading The Opposite of Fate – I’m so glad you loved it. It was a difficult book to write and took me several years. And I hadn’t thought of Mayella Ewell but you are absolutely right. XO